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'Willy Wonka' actress Denise Nickerson suffers stroke at age 61

by Ree Hines / / Source: TODAY

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"Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" actress Denise Nickerson is in an intensive care unit following a stroke.

According to the star's family, she's currently in critical but stable condition, and still has a long way to go in her recovery.

Denise Nickerson
Actress Denise Nickerson remains hospitalized after suffering a severe stoke in June.WireImage/Getty Images

"She's stable and had the feeding tube put in this afternoon," a recent statement to TODAY revealed. "She's doing okay. We are holding strong as well. The only message we really have is that we are positive she's getting better and continuing to fight so we have hope. We appreciate all the thoughts, prayers, love, donations, and kindness sent to us and her at this time."

Cast of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Denise Nickerson played the part of gum-loving Violet Beauregarde in the children's classic "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" (1971).Alamy Stock

The 61-year-old, who's best known for playing the highly competitive gum-smacking tween Violet Beauregarde in the classic 1971 kids film, suffered the severe stroke in June, and has remained in the ICU since then.

Earlier this month, Nickerson's daughter-in-law revealed that the star's only child, son Josh Nickerson, played a beloved song from "Willy Wonka" — Gene Wilder's "Pure Imagination" — for his mother at the hospital.

Nickerson visited TODAY in 2015, along with several of her "Willy Wonka" cast mates, and shared happy memories from her experience on the set of the film.

"I was having a ball," she said of the constant gum chewing required for her role. But she admitted that she gave up the habit after filming due to the "13 cavities" that came home with her.

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